DALLAS — There was a celebration in the skies over Dallas Friday night. The fireworks show marked the opening of the renovated observation deck inside the landmark Reunion Tower.
It’s been 35 years since the distinctive 561-foot tall structure first opened, and seven years since the observation deck closed.
A lot has changed in the area surrounding the tower. The namesake sports arena next door was torn down in 2009, but other areas of downtown Dallas are seeing new urban development.
They knew it was special when it opened back in 1978 — a different design, a different look — but not quite this special.
"We did not intend when we built this for it to end up being an icon, but it has become one," said Ray Hunt, who has supported downtown Dallas for decades, through bad times and now better ones.
When the observation deck closed seven years ago, Hunt knew it would have to reopen as a signature destination.
Starting Saturday, the new GeO-Deck will reveal his idea of the future. A system called HALO offers incomparable city views in every direction via interactive high definition zooming cameras and digital touchscreen displays.
A new first stop for every visitor offers a new view for every resident.
"That interactivity allows you to play around and really experience what you’re seeing, and not only get a better view and get a sense of distance, but really learn more about it and really prioritize the things that you’d like to see on your visit," said Chris Kleinert of Hunt Realty Investments.
Reunion Tower's observation deck was supposed to reopen sooner, but like every place else, the worldwide recession in 2008 delayed the project.
That turned out to be a good thing.
"A lot of the technology that exists today and is on display here, it didn’t exist in 2008," Hunt said.
Reunion Tower is reclaiming its place as the city's signature building.
The attraction at 300 Reunion Boulevard opens at 9:30 a.m. on weekends and at 10 a.m. on weekdays. It remains open until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 10 p.m. other nights.
Parking is $6 at the south parking lot at Reunion Boulevard and Sports Street. Tickets cost $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for kids ages 4-12.